McFarland & Co., 2004
Hardcover, library binding. 174pp. Index.
Its almost hard to believe that we’ve gone so long without a Ripper book devoted solely to the long list of suspects involved in the Ripper case. And now, within the space of just five months, we have two new titles which do just that – the self-published Jack the Ripper: Eliminating the Suspects by C.J. Morley, and most recently, The Jack the Ripper Suspects, by Stan Russo.
Russo’s book covers 70 suspects. Some are well-known to students of the case. Others are lesser-known, and several are quite new to the study. The real strength of The Jack the Ripper Suspects is that it is very much up-to-date. Russo has included all the most recent finds and theories from the various Ripper outlets, both online and in print, so that even his entries on the most popular suspects remain fresh and informative. A helpful mini-bibliography is offered at the end of each suspect review to help guide readers toward additional resources.
A fair amount of personal opinion is also injected into each entry. Russo is not shy to let his readers know which suspects he finds impossible, improbable or just plain laughable, though he is quick to note that unless a subject’s whereabouts have been firmly established on the nights of the canonical murders, they can not be entirely ruled out.
This book, it should be noted, is best suited for the experienced Ripperologist. Those with little or no grounding in the case will almost certainly be confused by the hundreds of names, dates and places which are mentioned within the various entries without elaboration or explanation. No general overview of the case is provided, and no narrative link exists between entries, so this is definitely not a book for beginners.
Overall, a commendable study of the suspects. The writing style is a bit jumpy in places, which makes it difficult to follow, but as a whole I thought it to be a very enjoyable read. Serious students of the case will likely find it quite useful as a suspect-oriented reference guide, though the price - $45US for a hardcover of only 174 pages - is admittedly a bit steep.